Watch Out for Scratched Triple Crown Runners

Forte runs down Mage in Florida Derby (Lauren King/Gulfstream Park Photo)

By Jarrod Horak

Five horses defected from the 2023 Kentucky Derby and there was one Preakness scratch. Can any of those runners make an impact this summer and fall? 

Continuar (JPN): He would have been one of the longest shots on the board in the Derby. His trainer was not happy with his fitness level and decided to take a pass at Churchill Downs. He is back in Japan and has not started since a show finish in the UAE Derby (G2) on March 25. 

Forte: Todd Pletcher’s 2-year-old champion was the biggest name to miss the Derby. He was the morning line favorite but was diagnosed with a foot bruise and had to come out. He was placed on the 14-day vet list and was off the worktab for three weeks. He was able to work three times at Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes (G1), and he rallied wide to just nip his stablemate Tapit Trice for the runner-up spot. That was his first start in 10 weeks and it was a very strong effort considering everything that happened to him after winning the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1. He has not worked since the Belmont and might train up to the Grade 1 Travers.  

Lord Miles: His trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. pulled him out of the Derby based on advice from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. He was not injured or sick. His defection had everything to do with a pair of Derby week runners from this barn breaking down and all of the negative press that followed. The Wood Memorial (G2) winner finished an even fourth in the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 24. He fits in races like the West Virginia Derby.   

Practical Move: He spiked a temperature and was forced to miss the Derby. The 3-time graded winner (G2 Los Al Futurity, G2 San Felipe, G1 SA Derby) has not returned to the worktab since the Derby scratch. He is worth following when he gets back to work. 

Skinner: I really liked the way this one was training in advance of the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he had an elevated temperature and had to miss his scheduled start on the first Saturday in May. That was not the only time he scratched. He was entered in the Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita Park on June 4 but John Shirreffs was not happy with his training and he pulled him out of that race as well. It seems like he is healthy again. He worked an easy half-mile in 50.40 on June 14 and fired a five panel bullet in 59 flat one week later. His latest move was a six furlong jaunt in 1:12.40 on June 28. The Los Alamitos Derby at 1 1/8 miles on July 8 is his next assignment, and he might ship to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 29 if everything goes well. The San Felipe (G2) and SA Derby (G1) show finisher is clearly faster as a sophomore and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do this summer and fall.  

First Mission: He was my original top choice in the Preakness (G1) but had a left hind issue and was forced to scratch. I would love to see this one return to action in the near future. The lightly raced Street Sense colt went from maiden winner in March to Grade 3 Lexington winner in April. He is all upside.